Patrick Pearse

Pádraic Henry Pearse (1879 - 1916)

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Pádraic Henry (Patrick) Pearse aka MacPiarais, Pierse
Born in Dublin, County Dublin, Irelandmap
Ancestors ancestors
[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died in Dublin, County Dublin, Irelandmap
Profile last modified | Created 12 Oct 2014
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Categories: Saint Enda's School, Rathfarnham, Dublin | Irish Poets | Irish Nationalists | Irish Rebels | Irish Republican Brotherhood | Easter Rising | Arbour Hill Cemetery, Dublin | Dublin City, Dublin.

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PADRAIG PEARSE 1879 - 1916

Patrick Pierse was born on 10 November 1879 at Dublin, County Dublin, Ireland.[1] [2]

Patrick Henry was the son of James Pierse and his wife, Margaret Blady (sic Brady) Pierse[1] who were married at St Agatha's Church off the North Strand, Dublin, on 24 October 1877, with John McLoughlin as best man.[2] James Pearse, an Englishman born in Bloomsbury, Middlesex, whose family moved to Birmingham when he was a child, was described as a stone carver on the his first child's birth certificate and a sculptor on his second child's, migrated to Ireland during a period of Catholic church building in the mid-nineteenth century, and appears to have converted to Catholicism during his first marriage. James worked for Hardiman & Early, then Harrison's in Pearse Street.[2]

Patrick's father married Susanna Fox, and through this marriage, Patrick had older half-siblings:[2]

  1. Mary Emily Pearse, born on 31 December 1864 at Dublin, married Alfred McLoughlin (Patrick was a page at their wedding);
  2. James Vincent Pearse, born on 19 December 1866;

Circa 1873, James went into partnership with Patrick J Neill in a marble works at 182 Great Brunswick Street[2] After Susanna died on 26 July 1876, aged 30, James moved into 5 Parnell Place, Harold's Cross, with his friend John McLoughlin, and was living there when he married his second wife, Patrick's mother, Margaret Brady, aged 20, the daughter of a coal merchant, whose father's family had moved from Co Meath to Dublin during the famine. Patrick was greatly influenced by his mother's aunt, Margaret, who "carried him to be christened" and "inspired his love of Gaelic culture."[2]

In 1878, James started his own business, Ecclesiastical & Architectural Sculptor, at 27 Great Brunswick Street where his family also resided and it was here that James and Margaret had their children, Patrick, and his three siblings, who were all baptised at St Andrew's Church, Westland Row:[2]

  1. Margaret Mary Pearse, born 4 August 1878;
  2. William James Pearse, born on 15 November 1881;
  3. Mary Bridget Pearse, born on 29 September 1888;

James was an English radical who adopted the Parnellite cause and in 1886 wrote "England's duty to Ireland as it appears to an Englishman" in reply to an anti-Home Rule, anti-clerical tract by Thomas Maguire, Professor of Moral Philiosophy, and Catholic Fellow of Trinity College.[2] A lengthy obituary appeared in the Freeman's Journal and on 8 September 1900 in the Irish Independent when James died in 1900 of a cerebral haemorrhage while on a visit to his brother in Birmingham, because he was one of the leading ecclesiastical sculptors in the city of Dublin, a pioneer of modern Gothic art in Church work in Ireland, with almost every important church in Ireland containing an altar or a figure. By that time, the family was living in George's Villas, Sandymount, the funeral was held at St Andrew's Westland Row, and he was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. He died intestate and Patrick was sole executor of his £1,470 17s 6d estate. Patrick's brother Willie carried on their father's business, there was a Pieta cast by him in St Andrew's Church, until he joined Patrick in St Enda's.[2],

Patrick and his family also lived in Lisreaghan Terrace. Patrick attended the Christian Brothers' School in Westland Row until he was aged 17.[2]

When the Census of Ireland was taken on 2 April 1911, Pádraic Mac Piarais was a 31 year-old catholic at located at house 20.2 in Haroldsgrange townland, Whitechurch parish, North Dublin, County Dublin, with Mairghréad Nic Phiarais, 51, Mairghréad Nic Phiarais, 32, Uilliam Mac Piarais, 29, Úilfrid Mac Lochlainn 22, and Mairghréad Ní Bhradaigh, 40.[3] next door to St Enda’s College and Boarding-School.[4] which he founded in 1909 with a curriculum designed to promote a rounded awareness of Gaelic culture and history.[5]

Great Brunswick Street, Dublin, is named after them today.

Pearse grew up surrounded by books. His father had had very little formal education, but was self-educated; from his first marriage (two other children died in infancy).

Pearse soon became involved in the Gaelic revival. In 1896, at the age of 16, he joined the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge), and in 1903, at the age of 23, he became editor of its newspaper An Claidheamh Soluis ("The Sword of Light").

Pearse's early heroes were ancient Gaelic folk heroes such as Cúchulainn, though in his 30s he began to take a strong interest in the leaders of past republican movements, such as the United Irishmen Theobald Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet. Both had been Protestant, but it was from such men as these that the fervently Catholic Pearse drew inspiration for the rebellion of 1916.

In 1900 Pearse was awarded a BA in Modern Languages (Irish, English and French) by the Royal University of Ireland, for which he had studied for two years privately and for one at University College Dublin. In the same year he was also enrolled as a Barrister-at-Law at the King's Inns. He was called to the bar in 1901.

As a cultural nationalist educated by the Irish Christian Brothers, like his younger brother Willie, Pearse believed that language was intrinsic to the identity of a nation. The Irish school system, he believed, raised Ireland's youth to be good Englishmen or obedient Irishmen, and an alternative was needed. Thus for him and other language revivalists saving the Irish language from extinction was a cultural priority of the utmost importance. The key to saving the language, he felt, would be a sympathetic education system. To show the way he started his own bilingual school, St. Enda's School (Scoil Éanna) in Cullenswood House in Ranelagh, a suburb of County Dublin, in 1908. The pupils were taught in both Irish and English. Cullenswood House is now the home of a Gaelscoil, Lios na nÓg. With the aid of Thomas MacDonagh, Pearse's younger brother Willie Pearse and other (often transient) academics, it soon proved a successful experiment. Pearse did all he planned, and even took students on field trips to the Gaeltacht in the West of Ireland. Pearse's restless idealism led him in search of an even more idyllic home for his school. He found it in the Hermitage, Rathfarnham, County Dublin, to which he moved St Enda's in 1910, and which is now home to the Pearse Museum.

Pearse was also involved in the foundation of St Ita's school for girls, a school with aims similar to those of St Enda's.

However, the new home, while splendidly located in an 18th-century house surrounded by a park and woodlands, caused financial difficulties that almost brought Pearse to disaster. He strove continually to keep ahead of his debts while doing his best to maintain the school. In February 1914 he went on a fund-raising trip to the United States, where he met John Devoy and Joseph McGarrity both of whom were impressed by his fervour and supported him in raising sufficient money to secure the continued existence of the school.

In April 1912 John Redmond leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, which held the balance of power in the House of Commons committed the government of the United Kingdom to introducing an Irish Home Rule Bill. Pearse gave the Bill a qualified welcome.

He was one of four speakers, including Redmond, Joseph Devlin MP, leader of the Northern Nationalists, and Eoin MacNeill a prominent Gaelic Leaguer, who addressed a large Home Rule Rally in Dublin at the end of March 1912. Speaking in Irish, Pearse said he thought that "a good measure can be gained if we have enough courage", but he warned, "Let the English understand that if we are again betrayed, there shall be red war throughout Ireland."

In November 1913 Pearse was invited to the inaugural meeting of the Irish Volunteers—formed in reaction to the creation of the Ulster Volunteers—whose aim was "to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to the whole people of Ireland".In an article entitled "The Coming Revolution" (November 1913) Pearse wrote:

As to what your work as an Irish Nationalist is to be, I cannot conjecture; I know what mine is to be, and would have you know yours and buckle yourselves to it. And it may be (nay, it is) that your and mine will lead us to a common meeting-place, and that on a certain day we shall stand together, with many more beside us, ready for a greater adventure than any of us has yet had, a trial and a triumph to be endured and achieved in common.

The Home Rule Bill just failed to pass the House of Lords, but the Lords' diminished power under the Parliament Act 1911 meant that the Bill could only be delayed, not stopped. It was placed on the statute books with Royal Assent in September 1914, but its implementation was suspended for the duration of the First World War.

John Redmond feared that his "national authority" might be circumvented by the Volunteers and decided to try to take control of the new movement. Despite opposition from the Irish Republican Brotherhood, the Volunteer Executive agreed to share leadership with Redmond and a joint committee was set up. Pearse was opposed to this and was to write: The leaders in Ireland have nearly always left the people at the critical moment; they have sometimes sold them.The former Volunteer movement was abandoned by its leaders; O'Connell recoiled before the cannon at Clontarf; twice the hour of the Irish revolution struck during Young Ireland days and twice it struck in vain, for Meagher hesitated in Waterford, Duffy and McGee hesitated in Dublin. Stephens refused to give the word in '65; he never came in '66 or '67. I do not blame these men; you or I might have done the same. It is a terrible responsibility to be cast on a man, that of bidding the cannon speak and the grapeshot pour. The Volunteers split, one of the issues being support for the Allied and British war effort. A majority followed Redmond into the National Volunteers in the belief that this would ensure Home Rule on their return. Pearse, exhilarated by the dramatic events of the European war, wrote in an article in December 1915:

It is patriotism that stirs the people. Belgium defending her soil is heroic, and so is Turkey . . . . . . It is good for the world that such things should be done. The old heart of the earth needed to be warmed with the red wine of the battlefields. Such august homage was never before offered to God as this, the homage of millions of lives given gladly for love of country. In December 1913 Bulmer Hobson swore Pearse into the secret Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), an organisation dedicated to the overthrow of British rule in Ireland and its replacement with an Irish Republic. He was soon co-opted onto the IRB's Supreme Council by Tom Clarke. Pearse was then one of many people who were members of both the IRB and the Volunteers. When he became the Volunteers' Director of Military Organisation in 1914 he was the highest ranking Volunteer in the IRB membership, and instrumental in the latter's commandeering of the remaining minority of the Volunteers for the purpose of rebellion. By 1915 he was on the IRB's Supreme Council, and its secret Military Council, the core group that began planning for a rising while war raged on the European Western Front.

On 1 August 1915 Pearse gave a graveside oration at the funeral of the Fenian Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa. It closed with the words:

Our foes are strong and wise and wary; but, strong and wise and wary as they are, they cannot undo the miracles of God Who ripens in the hearts of young men the seeds sown by the young men of a former generation. And the seeds sown by the young men of '65 and '67 are coming to their miraculous ripening today. Rulers and Defenders of the Realm had need to be wary if they would guard against such processes. Life springs from death; and from the graves of patriot men and women spring living nations. The Defenders of this Realm have worked well in secret and in the open. They think that they have pacified Ireland. They think that they have purchased half of us and intimidated the other half. They think that they have foreseen everything, think that they have provided against everything; but, the fools, the fools, the fools! – They have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland unfree shall never be at peace.

Easter Rising 1916

Mrs Kathleen Clarke, the wife of Tom Clarke, said the night the Proclamation of the Republic was signed, Pearse was elected Commander-in-Chief and Clarke was elected President.[2]

Pearse was chosen by the leading IRB man Tom Clarke to be the spokesman for the Rising. It was Pearse who, on behalf of the IRB shortly before Easter in 1916, issued the orders to all Volunteer units throughout the country for three days of manoeuvres beginning Easter Sunday, which was the signal for a general uprising. When Eoin MacNeill, the Chief of Staff of the Volunteers, learned what was being planned without the promised arms from Germany, he countermanded the orders via newspaper, causing the IRB to issue a last-minute order to go through with the plan the following day, greatly limiting the numbers who turned out for the rising.

When the Easter Rising eventually began on Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, it was Pearse who read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic from the steps of the General Post Office, the headquarters of the rising. After six days of fighting, heavy civilian casualties and great destruction of property, Pearse issued the order to surrender.

Pearse and fourteen other leaders, including his brother Willie, were court-martialled and executed by firing squad. Thomas Clarke, Thomas MacDonagh and Pearse, aged 36, were the first of the rebels to be executed, on the morning of 3 May 1916.[2] Roger Casement, who had tried unsuccessfully to recruit an insurgent force among Irish-born prisoners of war from the Irish Brigade in Germany, was hanged in London the following August.

Sir John Maxwell, the General Officer commanding the British forces in Ireland, sent a telegram to H.H. Asquith, then Prime Minister, advising him not to return the bodies of the Pearse brothers to their family, saying, "Irish sentimentality will turn these graves into martyrs' shrines to which annual processions will be made, which would cause constant irritation in this country. Maxwell also suppressed a letter from Pearse to his mother, and two poems dated 1 May 1916. He submitted copies of them also to Prime Minister Asquith, saying that some of the content was "objectionable".

Pearse wrote stories and poems in both Irish and English. His best-known English poems include "The Mother", "The Fool" and "The Wayfarer".[18] He also wrote several allegorical plays in the Irish language, including The King, The Master, and The Singer. His short stories in Irish include Eoghainín na nÉan ("Eoineen of the Birds"), Íosagán,"An Gadaí" Na Bóithre ("The Roads"), and An Bhean Chaointe ("The Keening Woman"). These are translated into English by Joseph Campbell (in the Collected Works of 1917). Most of his ideas on education are contained in his famous essay "The Murder Machine". He also wrote many essays on politics and language, notably "The Coming Revolution" and "Ghosts".

Pearse is closely associated with the song, "Oró Sé do Bheatha 'Bhaile", for which he composed additional lyrics.

Largely as a result of a series of political pamphlets that Pearse wrote in the months leading up to the Rising, he soon became recognised as the main voice of the Rising. In the middle decades of the 20th century Pearse was idolised by Irish nationalists as the supreme idealist of their cause. With the outbreak of conflict in Northern Ireland in 1969 Pearse's legacy was used by the Provisional IRA. However, Pearse's reputation and writings have been subject to criticism by some historians, who have seen him as dangerous, fanatical, psychologically unsound and ultra-religious. As Conor Cruise O'Brien, onetime Labour TD and former unionist politician, put it: "Pearse saw the Rising as a Passion Play with real blood." Others have defended Pearse, suggesting that to blame him for the violence in Northern Ireland was unhistorical and a distortion of the real spirit of his writings. Though the passion of those arguments has waned in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, his complex personality still remains a subject of controversy for those who wish to debate the evolving meaning of Irish nationalism.

Pearse's mother Margaret Pearse served as a TD in Dáil Éireann in the 1920s. His sister Margaret Mary Pearse also served as a TD and Senator.


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 27 March 2016), Patrick Pierse, 10 Nov 1879; citing Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, reference v 2-2 p 735; FHL microfilm 256,039.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 David Thornley, "Patrick Pearse and the Pearse Family" Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, 60 (239/240), 1971, 332–346. Retrieved from 28 March 2016
  3. "Residents of a house 20.2 in Haroldsgrange (Whitechurch, Dublin), 1911 Census", National Archives of Ireland, ( : accessed 28 March 2016).
  4. "Residents of a house 20.1 in Haroldsgrange (Whitechurch, Dublin), 1911 Census", National Archives of Ireland, ( : accessed 28 March 2016).
  5. "Dublin : Education", National Archives of Ireland, ( : accessed 28 March 2016).

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Patrick Pearse
Patrick Pearse


On 27 Apr 2016 at 16:10 GMT Maria Maxwell wrote:

Maryann, we have added as PM for the other Easter Rising profiles and ppp'd them. You might like to do the same here.


Patrick is 34 degrees from George Bush, 35 degrees from Rick San Soucie and 35 degrees from Victoria of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on our single family tree. Login to find your connection.

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